by Brian A. Wilkins, Senior Writer/Editor, Local Motors
CHANDLER, ARIZ — The built-it-yourself Rally Fighter and Verrado electric drift trike are the two most commonly raised subject matters when Local Motors comes up in casual conversation among techies and car enthusiasts. The company’s 3D-printed car has been the talk of the automotive world as of late, particularly after the LM3D series was debuted at the Las Vegas SEMA Show in early November. But this is only the beginning as to what Local Motors is doing to completely transform the automotive manufacturing industry.
The design process for the electric LM3D Swim (pictured above with Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers, Jr. at SEMA) was finished in late June. A little over two months later, a fully operational version was built to completion for the world to see. The idea of a vehicle going from concept to drivable car in a matter of months would have not only been laughed at by engineers ten years ago, but dismissed entirely as a pipe dream. But Local Motors has harnessed the power of co-creation and direct digital manufacturing (DDM) to completely disrupt the entire automotive manufacturing process.
The LM3D consists of less than 60 total parts, with 75 percent of the car being 3D-printed. That means a vast majority of the car is built on one machine using one material (in this case a 20 percent carbon-filled ABS plastic). The need for complex, bureaucratic supply chains has been completely eliminated. Meanwhile Local Motors Microfactories emit far less greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than traditional manufacturing plants.
But its the Co-creation community that is engineering this train of automotive disruption. Independent designers and large corporations alike have utilized the Local Motors Open IO platform to bring their design concepts to life. It was community member Kevin Lo who won the Project REDACTED community challenge this past summer for his LM3D Swim design. Designers, engineers and anyone else with visionary minds are encouraged to create a profile on the Open IO platform, complete tasks and even submit your own ideas to become a part of the automotive manufacturing revolution.
Local Motors will have a smart, sustainable, safe, road-ready 3D-printed car on the road by 2017. You can sign up for email updates on the Local Motors homepage.